By Steve Rizer
In comments recently submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Construction Managers Association of America (CMAA) asserted that in order for America to meet its future infrastructure needs, both the owner community and the designers, contractors, and consultants who serve them will have to embrace new mindsets.
“The owner community (in transportation terms, almost entirely public) must respond … with new and more flexible approaches,” CMAA stated in comments it submitted in relation to DOT’s draft Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. The organization stressed that some “far-sighted” owners are driving “important changes” involving qualifications-based selection, more flexible project-delivery options (i.e., construction manager at risk and design-build), and a “better understanding and management of risk.”
In addition, the architecture/engineering/construction community “must reduce the cost of delivering infrastructure drastically and within a short time frame,” according to CMAA, which represents approximately 13,000 public and private organizations, owners, and individual practitioners.
In making its point, CMAA argued that adoption of innovative funding options will not be enough to solve the problem.
“In the absence of any prospect of increased tax revenues, we have heard extensive discussions of a long-but-familiar list of ‘innovative’ funding options,” CMAA stated. “All of these have value and can be successful in particular circumstances. Even when all added together, though, these new funding options are not the solution to our problems. Yes, we should have a separate national Capital Budget. Yes, a National Infrastructure Bank is a sound idea. Yes, public-private partnerships can deliver major infrastructure projects speedily and efficiently while minimizing the cost impact on taxpayers. Yes, we should improve and expand bond programs such as TIFIA,” the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. “But ultimately, our ability to create and maintain the infrastructure we need to secure our future depends on developing a whole new viewpoint.”
DOT has informed CMAA that it hopes to have a final version of the Strategic Plan out next month, John McKeon, senior vice president for the association, told ConstructionPro Week (CPW). A full transcript of CPW’s interview with McKeon is included in the ConstructionPro Network member version of this article.